|Publication number||US5352094 A|
|Application number||US 07/821,643|
|Publication date||Oct 4, 1994|
|Filing date||Jan 16, 1992|
|Priority date||Jan 16, 1992|
|Publication number||07821643, 821643, US 5352094 A, US 5352094A, US-A-5352094, US5352094 A, US5352094A|
|Original Assignee||Duracraft Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (7), Referenced by (9), Classifications (8), Legal Events (6)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates generally to a portable fan device and, more particularly, to a portable fan device with an improved demountable protective grill assembly.
Many environmental conditioning devices utilize fan blades to produce air movement. Typically, such devices include protective grills that permit substantially unimpeded air flow while preventing potentially injurious physical contact with the fan blades employed. For ease of manufacturing, shipping and storage, protective grills often are discrete assemblies removably attachable to the operating unit.
Prior detachable grill assemblies have exhibited individually and collectively a variety of disadvantages. For example, certain types of connectors such as preassembled rivoted hinges and closure rings are not easily replaceable after breakage thereby rendering unsafe the units on which they are used. Other devices have protective grills attached with clips that require specially designed tools for removal. Still other securing elements are either costly to manufacture or cumbersome to assemble.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,073,088 discloses an improved attachment system for a removable protective grill. Fastening elements included in the disclosed attachment system alleviate the problems described above. However, under certain conditions, the fastening elements can produce undesirable noise resulting from vibration.
The object of this invention is to provide for a fan device a noise free attachment system for a removable protective grill.
The invention is an environmental conditioning apparatus including a control unit for conditioning a surrounding environment; a housing retaining the conditioning unit and comprising a flange defining an opening, the flange having inner and outer flange edge portions separated by oppositely directed front and rear flange surface portions; and a grill covering the opening and comprising a rim juxtaposed to the flange, the rim having inner and outer rim edge portions separated by oppositely directed front and rear rim surface portions and the rear rim surface portion facing the front flange surface portion. Also included are a plurality of fastening elements securing the rim to the flange; each of the elements being U-shaped and having an inner leg portion extending over the inner rim and flange edge portions, an outer leg portion extending over the outer rim and flange edge portions, a web portion joining the inner and outer leg portions and engaging either the front rim surface portion or the rear flange surface portion, and a latch portion terminating one of the leg portions and engaging the other front rim surface portion or rear flange surface portion not engaged by the web portion. The invention also includes a bias means exerting a separating force between each of the fastening elements and either the flange or the rim. The fastening elements facilitate assembly and disassembly of the grill and the bias means eliminates vibration noise.
According to one feature of the invention, the bias means is adapted to provide the separating force in a sense that produces a compression force between the latch portion and the other of either of the front rim surface portion or the rear flange surface portion not engaged by the web portion. The compression force maintains engagement between the elements and the flange rim assembly to eliminate vibration noise.
According to another feature of the invention, the bias means comprises on each fastening element a resilient arm portion engaging either the flange or rim. Assembly is simplified by forming a biasing arm on each fastening element.
According to a further feature of the invention, the latch portion terminates the outer leg portion and projects transversely therefrom toward the inner leg portion, the outer leg portion is resilient, and the spacing between the latch portion and the inner leg portion is less than the width of the other of either the front rim surface portion or the rear flange surface portion so as to require flexing of the outer leg portion during movement of the latch portion by either the rim or flange defining the other surface portion. Because of this feature the latch portions are accessible externally of the grill so as to facilitate removal of the fastening elements without a requirement for special tools.
According to yet another feature of the invention, the latch portion comprises a hook having a cam surface tapered inwardly toward the inner leg portion and downwardly toward the web portion. The cam surface generates forces required to flex the outer leg portion.
According to still another feature of the invention, the grill comprises a plurality of spaced apart ribs having interconnected inner ends and outer ends joined to the rim and each of the fastening elements comprises a retainer portion projecting from the web portion and defining a pair of spaced apart sockets, one disposed to receive one of the ribs and another disposed to receive another rib directly adjacent to the one rib. The socketed retainer portion insures stable retention of the fastening elements on the ribbed grill.
According to additional features of the invention, the resilient arm portion partially forms at least one of the sockets and includes an extended portion projecting transversely to the web portion in a direction toward the latch portion. This arrangement provides the desired functions in an efficient, compact configuration.
According to further features of the invention, the sockets define entrances adapted to press fittedly receive the ribs, and the spacing between the directly adjacent ribs increases in a direction from the inner ends to the outer ends. These structural features simplify assembly of the fastening elements and insure against inadvertent dislodgement thereof.
According to yet another feature of the invention, the outer leg portion has a maximum width less than the spacing between either the ribs or the spokes and the inner leg portion has a maximum width greater than the spacing therebetween. The outer leg portion width facilitates mounting of the fastening element while the inner leg portion width facilitates demounting thereof.
These and other objects and features of the invention will become more apparent upon a perusal of the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a fan device according to the invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a clip element used in the device shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view illustrating one step in the assembly of the clip element shown in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating another step in the assembly of the clip element shown in FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view illustrating the clip element of FIG. 2 in fully assembled position;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 6--6 of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view similar to that shown in FIG. 6 but of another invention embodiment;
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another clip element;
FIG. 9 is a plan view of the clip shown in FIG. 8;
FIG. 10 is a side view of the clip shown in FIG. 8; and
FIG. 11 is a perspective view illustrating the clip of FIGS. 8-10 in a fully assembled position.
A portable fan 11 can be used as an environmental conditioner by circulating air within a surrounding environment. Included in the fan 11 is a housing assembly 12 that includes a cage 13 that defines an opening 14. A fan blade 15 is disposed within the cage 13 and is accessible through the opening 14. Closing the opening 14 is a removable grill 16 formed by a plurality of radially oriented ribs 17. The grill 16 is removably attached to the cage 13 by a plurality of circumferentially distributed fastening clips 18 as described hereinafter.
As shown in FIG. 2 the clip 18 is a U-shaped clip element having parallel, spaced apart inner and outer leg portions 21, 22 connected at their ends by a web portion 23. Terminating an opposite end of the outer leg portion 22 is a latch portion 24 projecting transversely toward the inner leg portion 21 so as to form an engagement surface 25. A cam surface portion 26 of the latch portion 24 tapers inwardly from the outer leg portion 22 toward the inner leg portion 21 and downwardly toward the web portion 23. Extending outwardly from the web portion 23 is a retainer portion 27 that forms on each side of the inner leg portion 21 a socket 28 having an entrance opening 29. Each socket 28 is formed between an edge of the web portion 23 and a resilient arm portion 30 extending parallel to and spaced from the web portion 23. Formed on an outer end 31 of each arm is an extended tab portion 32 projecting transversely to the web portion 23 and in a direction toward the latch portion 24. Preferably, the clip 18 is a discrete unit integrally molded with a plastic material providing resiliency for the outer leg portion 22 and the arm portions 30.
Prior to attachment of the grill 16 over the opening 14 in the cage 13, the clips 18 are first assembled on the grill 16 as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4. Each of the clips 18 is attached to outer portions 35 of a directly adjacent pair of the ribs 17. As shown in FIG. 3, the outer rib portions 35 are connected to and extend substantially perpendicular to a circular rim 36 having a planar rim front surface 37 and a planar rim rear surface 38 that extends between an inner rim edge 41 and an outer rim edge 42. Opposite ends of the outer portions 35 join inner rib portions 43 that extend radially inwardly from the rim 36.
During assembly of a clip element 18, a pair of directly adjacent outer rib portions 35 are press fitted through the entrance openings 29 into the sockets 28 (FIG. 3). The element 18 then is slid into the position shown in FIG. 4 with the inner leg portion 21 and outer leg portion 22 straddling the rim 36 and the web portion 23 engaging the front rim surface 37. During this positioning of the clip element 18, the outer cam surface 26 on the latch portion 24 engages the outer rim edge 42 and flexes the resilient outer leg portion 22 outwardly to provide the necessary clearance for the latch portion 24 which is spaced from the inner leg portion 21 by a distance less than the width of the rim 36.
After positioning the clip elements 18 in the manner described above, the grill 16 is attached to the cage 13 with the circular rim 36 juxtaposed to a conforming circular flange 45 that is attached to ends of radially directed spokes 46. The flange 45 includes a planar rear flange surface 47 and a planar front flange surface 48 that extend between an inner flange edge 51 and an outer flange edge 52. Assembly is accomplished by forcing the clip elements 18 over the flange 15 into the positions wherein the inner leg portion 21 engages the inner rim edge 41 and the inner flange edge 51, the outer leg portion 212 engages the outer rim edge 42 and the outer flange edge 52, and the engagement surface 25 on the latch portion 24 engages the rear flange surface 47 (FIG. 6). During this assembly operation, the outer leg portion 22 is again flexed outwardly by engagement between the cam surface 26 of the latch portion 24 and the outer flange edge 52 of the flange 45 which also has a width greater than the spacing between the latch portion 24 and the inner leg portion 21. In addition, each of the tab portions 32 engage the front rim surface 37 to exert a separating force between its fastening element 18 and the rim 36. The separating force is applied in a sense that produces a compression force between the engagement surface 25 of the latch portion 24 and the rear flange surface 47. That compression force maintains snug engagement between the elements 18 and the rim 36 and the flange 45 to prevent vibration noise.
Disassembly of the grill 16 from the cage 13 is accomplished in the following manner. The outer leg portion 22 of each element 18 first is flexed outwardly to move the latch portion 24 outside the flange 45. This operation is readily accomplished in that the latch portions 24 are located outside the cage 13 so as to be readily accessible. The clip element 18 then is moved inwardly on the outer rib portions 35 into the position shown in FIG. 3 and out of engagement with the flange 45. This completely detaches the rim 36 from the flange 47 and allows separation of the grill 16 from the cage 13. Excessive movement of the clip element 18 on the ribs 17 is prevented by an outwardly decreasing spacing between the outer rib portions 35. As shown in FIG. 4, the spacing closely adjacent to the rim 36 is such as to closely accommodate the spacing between the sockets 28. However, a spacing a given distance from the rim 36 is less than the spacing between the sockets 28 and thereby limits movement of the clip element 18.
FIG. 7 illustrates another embodiment 55 of the invention in which the positions of the clip elements 18 are reversed. In the embodiment 55, the clip elements first are assembled on the flange 45 and then pressed over the rim 36. Thus, the web portion 23 engages the rear flange surface 47 rather than the front rim surface 37 and the engagement surface 25 of the latch portion 24 engages the front rim surface 37 rather than the rear flange surface 47. Also, the tab portions 32 on the resilient arms 30 engage the rear surface 47 of the flange 45 rather than the front surface 37 of the rim 36. In other ways the clips elements 18 function in the manner described above to secure the grill 16 to the cage 13.
FIGS. 8-10 illustrate another U-shaped clip element 58 having parallel, spaced apart inner and outer leg portions 61, 62 connected at their ends by a web portion 63. Terminating an opposite end of the outer leg portion 62 is a latch portion 64 projecting transversely toward the inner leg portion 61 so as to form an engagement surface 65. A cam surface portion 66 of the latch portion 64 tapers inwardly from the outer leg portion 62 toward the inner leg portion 61 and downwardly toward the web portion 63. Extending outwardly from the web portion 63 is a retainer portion 67 that forms on each side of the inner leg portion 61 a socket 68 having an entrance opening 69. Each socket 68 is formed between an edge of the web portion 63 and a resilient arm portion 70 extending parallel to and spaced from the web portion 63. Formed on an outer end of each arm is an extended semispherical tab portion 72 projecting transversely to the web portion 63 and in a direction toward the latch portion 64. Preferably, the clip 58 is a discrete unit integrally molded with a plastic material providing resiliency for the outer leg portion 62 and the arm portions 70. As shown in FIG. 8 the inner leg portion has a lower portion 75 with a width W and a narrower upper portion 76 projecting centrally therefrom. The width W of the lower portion is greater than the spacing d between the spokes 46 (FIG. 11). Also, the outer leg portion 62 has a uniform width w that is less than the spacing D between the outer rib portions 35.
The clip element 58 is assembled and disassembled in the same manner as described above for the clip element 18. However, during demounting of the clip elements 58, the wider lower portions 75 of the inner leg portions 61 provide a desirable function. As shown in FIG. 11, the spacing d between the spokes 46 is less than the maximum width W of the inner leg portions 61. Thus, during disassembly, the inner leg portions engage the spokes 46 to prevent rotation of the clips 58 on the flange 45 and rim 36 thereby facilitating flexing of the latch portions 64 into release positions.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is to be understood, therefore, that the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.
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|U.S. Classification||416/247.00R, 403/338, 24/453|
|Cooperative Classification||F04D29/703, Y10T24/42, Y10T403/648|
|Oct 28, 1992||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: DURACRAFT CORPORATION, MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:PENG, JOHNSON;REEL/FRAME:006389/0574
Effective date: 19921016
|Dec 11, 1997||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: HONEYWELL CONSUMER PRODUCTS, INC., MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:DURACRAFT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:008854/0440
Effective date: 19961121
|Aug 12, 1998||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Oct 4, 1998||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Dec 15, 1998||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 19981004
|Feb 27, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS AGENT, MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNORS:KAZ, INC.;KAZ USA, INC.;KAZ CANADA, INC.;REEL/FRAME:017215/0696
Effective date: 20060131